Understanding Text Message Marketing Compliance Rules in the UK
Sending SMS as part of your marketing strategy is a compelling way of connecting with your best customers in a highly personal, efficient manner. But with the high engagement and ROI opportunities come some compliance rules and requirements critical for ensuring an effective program.
Who sets the compliance rules in the UK?
There are some codes of conduct by various organizations in the UK that include compliance best practices, but there are also multiple regulatory acts in place to protect consumers and outline marketing rules and regulations. These include:
- The Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)
- UK Data Protection Act (DPA)
- UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- CAP Code
- Direct Marketing Association Code
PECR, DPA, and GDPR are all regulatory laws concerning consumer data and privacy protection. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is the independent authority that will take enforcement action when programs are out of compliance, as well as provide guidance to help retailers ensure their programs are up to date and following all rules and requirements. The UK Direct Marketing Association and Committee of Advertising Practice also have codes of conduct that Text Message Marketing programs must follow and can take action to remove or amend any that are in breach of said codes. All UK SMS programs must follow these policies.
What are the basics I should know?
Listrak stands up all its client programs within full compliance and provides recommendations on “gray” guidelines. You should always consult your legal counsel to review specifics and provide legal advice.
The primary compliance directives your Text Message Marketing program must follow include collecting ‘express written consent’ from new subscribers and outlining your directives properly upfront. This includes not implying opt-in with pre-checked checkboxes and instead having your subscribers provide their subscription clearly and directly. This is most often done through keywords, keyphrases, and phone number opt-in fields. A contact cannot be automatically opted into your program, force opted in, or passively opted in. Your Mobile Program Terms & Conditions and opt-in disclosures must be up-to-date, clear, and easily accessible.
In addition, contacts must be able to opt-out quickly through a universal STOP keyword or unsubscribe link. Instructions on opt-out (STOP) and asking for help (HELP) must be included in all your messaging, and your program name should always be present. Listrak’s tool can help you manage all these requirements and has the infrastructure to handle opt-outs immediately, delete personal data, and ensure proper messaging delivery.
When do these requirements need to be in place for my program?
All compliance rules and requirements must be met from the start of your program, including during the provisioning and approval of your program with the carriers. As mentioned, Listrak stands up all their client programs within full compliance and will provide you with resources and a Playbook to familiarize yourself with current rules and regulations. We handle the processing of paperwork and carrier approval for you, so you don’t need to navigate those waters alone.
Upon launching your program, it must remain in good standing with the UK carriers and regulatory organizations. That might include making requested changes or adjustments when policies change, which, again, Listrak can help guide you through. Always consult your legal counsel for final word and legal advice.
Why are these rules and requirements essential to follow?
Maintaining compliance should always be a focus for your Text Message Marketing program, as otherwise, there can be severe consequences. While organizations might impose fines or requests for changes, there’s an increased risk of program suspension and termination if requirements are unmet. To avoid any downtime in your program or legal action, compliance should always be considered first.
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Having a fully compliant Text Message Marketing program ensures your opportunities to earn maximum engagement and ROI potential. Listrak is here to help you with your questions and concerns, whether you are new to sending SMS in the UK or have a seasoned program. We work with a Tier 1 aggregator partner, have over 20 years of combined compliance experience, and regularly consult with experts well-versed in all things compliance. For more information or to get started, contact your Account Manager.